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Wednesday, 16 October 2002
Page: 5288


Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) (3:00 PM) —I have some further information in response to a question from Senator George Campbell on 18 September this year. I seek leave to have the answer incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The response read as follows—

Can the Minister confirm that the Government's decision to axe the Enhanced Printing Industries Competitiveness Scheme—EPICS—which was announced on budget night, was indeed made for budgetary reasons, as stated by officials from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources at estimates in June? If so, can she explain the budgetary implications of the government's decision, announced on 20 August, to restore the program?

While the Minister is looking for that information, can she also get clarification as to whether the decision to restore EPICS will force the budget further into deficit, or will funds be redirected from other programs? If so, which programs will be affected?

Senator Coonan:

Senator Campbell would be aware that Mr Macfarlane issued a press release on 14 May in relation to the decision to close the EPIC scheme which was announced as part of the budget. The Government has subsequently decided to restore the EPIC scheme. Funds have not been redirected from existing programs to restore EPIC so no other programs have been affected by the decision. Any budget implications of the decision to restore the program will be identified in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.